Pass master … prop Adam Jones at Wales training yesterday. Photo: AP
WALES second-rower Bradley Davies has tried to lighten the life of a gloomy touring party by running around attempting to scare his teammates with a plastic tarantula he bought at Taronga Zoo this week.
His latest victim was roommate Luke Charteris. The reserve forward leapt right across the hotel room when he found the big black spider supposedly crawling across his laptop computer.
His next trick in an attempt to get the tour back on track after two devastating Test losses to the Wallabies, is to try to frighten the home team during the final international at Allianz Stadium on Saturday afternoon by ''putting the tarantula in my sock during the scrums and seeing what happens''.
His attempts to be the team clown have been appreciated because light relief was desperately needed in the wake of the grand slam Six Nations champions' two exasperatingly close Test losses, after fervently believing they would leave Australia the victors of the series. The biggest kick in the guts was in Melbourne when Mike Harris booted a penalty goal after the bell for the Wallabies to snatch victory from the Welsh 25-23.
''A break was needed by this team, because losing that Test was obviously such a massive disappointment,'' Davies said. ''We were all so devastated about how the Melbourne Test finished.''
Asked if he had ever felt that bad before, Davies replied: ''No. It was a terrible feeling.''
''As a squad we've been on a long journey and seen a lot of lows. But obviously the last couple of weeks we started to get some success [in the Six Nations] and so what happened here is disappointing. We thought we contained Will Genia well in Melbourne and with 30 seconds left I thought 'We've got this'. Then we did a long kick, obviously a penalty came, and the rest is history. That's difficult to take as a player.''
The way the Welsh lost - five-eighth Rhys Priestland booted the ball downfield - has led to suggestions of a rift between their forwards and backs. Several forwards, including captain Sam Warburton, were astounded that Priestland kicked away possession in the final minute.
That's why they took a day off this week for some Sydney sightseeing to revive good old-fashioned bonhomie.
Now, says forwards coach Robin McBryde, everyone is again focused and keen to end the series with something to take back to Cardiff.
''It's a long way to come and return home with nothing to show for all the hard work,'' McBryde said. ''It's our final chance,'' ''But we've got to put a touch of realism to it all. We were just 40 seconds or a minute short of winning that game. There were certain aspects we didn't get quite right throughout the game … So we weren't that far away. We have to take heart and confidence from that.''
McBryde added that the Wallabies' change in the second row, with Sitaleki Timani moving in for Rob Simmons, would result in Wales playing a different style.
''Up front they're obviously looking at getting across the gain line more than what they did on Saturday. I thought we were quite comfortable in dealing with the threats they posed, especially around the edge of the rucks.
''The inclusion of Timani shows they are looking for bit more of a running threat, and perhaps more weight in the scrum. I thought we had the advantage in the scrum.''